Brendan Rodgers to be unlikely hero? – Premier League Preview

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Liverpool look to put setbacks behind them this weekend against Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle, and could pin their hopes on another ex-manager at Man City.

The Reds’ 3-0 loss to Barcelona on Wednesday night could threaten to damage morale on Merseyside, but James Milner has insisted this is a weekend to “bounce back” at Newcastle.

Victory over the Magpies on Saturday would put considerable pressure on Man City to take three points from Leicester, led by a familiar face in Brendan Rodgers.

This remains the key narrative for the weekend ahead, but there are other stories to play out over the next four days.

Here we take a look at the action on the penultimate weekend of the season, beyond Liverpool’s trip to St James’ Park.

 

Everton vs. Burnley – Friday, 8pm – Sky Sports

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 23, 2019: Burnley's goalkeeper Tom Heaton and Charlie Taylor (R) celebrate their side's 2-1 victory during the FA Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Everton host Burnley at Goodison, hoping to keep their Europa League hopes alive.

After a stalemate in south London last week, the Toffees will have to overcome the same prospect against a gritty Burnley side.

The Clarets did their best to disrupt the title race and will hope they’re just as resolute on Merseyside.

If Matt Lowton decides to head the ball, or quicken his reaction times, then the Clarets may stand a chance.

Prediction: Everton 2-0 Burnley

 

Bournemouth vs. Tottenham – Saturday, 12.30pm – Sky Sports

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Monday, April 18, 2016: Tottenham Hotspur's manager Mauricio Pochettino before the FA Premier League match against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thanks to the deplorable form of their top-four rivals, Spurs are almost home in the fight for a Champions League place.

They looked lethargic against West Ham and were run off the pitch against Ajax for large spells.

Bournemouth, meanwhile, put three past Southampton last time out yet looked equally shaky at the back.

Having lost their last five away games confidence can’t be high for Spurs, but surely Dean Court is where they turn the tide.

It should be a free-flowing game, with Tottenham just pinching the points.

Prediction: Bournemouth 1-2 Tottenham

 

Wolves vs. Fulham – Saturday, 3pm

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Friday, December 21, 2018: Wolverhampton Wanderers' captain Conor Coady during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s an absolute tragedy that Wolves played City so long ago. Given the recent form of Nuno Espirito Santo’s side you’d fancy them to topple just about anyone.

Their quest to be ‘best of the rest’ may ride on this match, considering their trip to Anfield next Saturday.

For the visitors, Ryan Babel and Aleksandar Mitrovic have been in great form, somehow hauling the Cottagers to three successive wins.

However, with world-beater Lazar Markovic unavailable, Wolves will get the chocolates comfortably.

Prediction: Wolves 2-0 Fulham

 

West Ham vs. Southampton – Saturday, 3pm

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 19, 2016: Southampton's Charlie Austin arrives ahead of the FA Premier League match against Everton at St. Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If you’re looking for something not to do at 3pm I’d put this on your list.

Despite positive results for both sides last weekend, there is simply nothing to play for here.

Saints are now safe and should play with greater freedom than usual.

Notwithstanding the lack of meaning, there could be a few goals for either team.

Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Southampton

 

Cardiff City vs. Crystal Palace – Saturday, 5.30pm – BT Sport

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock . (Richard Sellers/PA Wire.)

Cardiff look to have run their race in the Premier League. Neil Warnock will point to the referees as a big reason why, but he can look no further than himself.

Losing to an already-relegated Fulham looks to have sealed their fate and it’s fair to say Scousers won’t mind one bit!

They’re still a mathematical chance but Palace will kill their hopes with a counter-attacking display on the road.

Wilf Zaha to run wild on Welsh soil.

Prediction: Cardiff City 1-3 Crystal Palace

 

Chelsea vs. Watford – Sunday, 2pm

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 6, 2017: Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta during the FA Community Shield match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Blues host Watford as Javi Gracia’s men make the short trip to west London.

Chelsea are undefeated in their past eight home games and look likely for the top four after sharing the spoils at Old Trafford.

Eden Hazard will be aiming to keep his title as assist king and add to his league-high 13.

Watford have slipped to 10th after just two wins in five and with Chelsea having lost once at home all season, it won’t change come Sunday.

Prediction: Chelsea 3-1 Watford

 

Huddersfield vs. Man United – Sunday, 2pm – Sky Sports

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 12, 2019: Manchester United's Paul Pogba during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg match between Manchester United FC and Paris Saint-Germain at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A mismatch on a financial scale. But an (almost) worthy one on the pitch.

United have won once in their past five; only Brighton and Huddersfield—who themselves have lost eight on the bounce—are worse off.

They have fallen way off their perch, cheering for City’s goal at Burnley last weekend.

But despite their insipid performances of late, they’ll finally be able to cheer their own once again.

Prediction: Huddersfield 0-3 Man United

 

Arsenal vs. Brighton – Sunday, 4.30pm – Sky Sports

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 7, 2019: Arsenal's captain Mesut Özil looks dejected during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Arsenal FC at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

They just find new ways of entertaining rivals and disappointing their supporters. Arsenal are the gift that keeps on giving.

With a top-four berth in their hands, they have lost three of four in the league to stuff it up once again.

They couldn’t drop points this week, could they?

Brighton will give them a fight, especially with survival hopes boosted; they’ll look to Glenn Murray to spearhead their fleeting attacking efforts.

Arsenal have too much in attack, though, and Brighton don’t have enough to cause trouble.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Brighton

 

Man City vs. Leicester City – Monday, 8pm – Sky Sports

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 26, 2015: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers winks at a fan before watching his side beat Aston Villa 3-2 during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The one we’re all waiting for: the last realistic chance for Liverpool in their bid to end 29 years of hurt.

Rodgers will look to boost his huge ego and defeat Pep Guardiola on his own patch.

There is real hope for the Reds as Leicester are the seventh-best side away from home and striker Jamie Vardy is in top form.

He’s scored nine in nine under Rodgers and has a fantastic record of scoring against the big six.

If Jamie Vardy’s having a party, he won’t be alone.

Prediction: Man City 2-1 Leicester

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